A California graduate student, whose vandalism attacks on car dealerships caused more than $2 million of damage in 2003, has been sentenced to over eight years in prison.
William Jensen Cottrell, 24, was sentenced on April 18 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for damaging or destroying over 100 Hummers and SUVs at three Southern California dealerships.
In addition to his prison sentence, Cottrell was ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution.
In November 2004, Cottrell admitted to spray-painting Earth Liberation Front slogans on SUVs, but denied being part of the radical environmentalist movement. He said he did not know that two un-indicted co-conspirators, Tyler Johnson and Michie Oe, intended to throw Molotov cocktails. Federal prosecutors identified Johnson and Oe as "fugitive co-conspirators" in the case. Authorities believe the two have fled the country.
The Earth Liberation Front appears to have targeted two homes under construction in Sammamish, Washington, on April 13. One home was firebombed, causing significant damage to the garage. In the other home, investigators found the gas turned on and an incendiary device that did not work. A sign in front of one of the homes read, "Where are all the trees? Burn, rapist, burn. E.L.F." The King County Sheriff's Department said the incident "goes beyond arson to domestic terrorism. It's typically what this group has been involved in." ATF agents said that the faulty incendiary device was similar to those used to firebomb houses in Snohomish County last year. ELF took responsibility for that attack as well.